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Are You An Unintentional Workplace Bully?

Published November 05, 2015 (last updated June 24, 2020) -
Man Yelling At Phone Workplace Bully

Did you know that sarcasm, bad faith, isolating, the cold shoulder, belittling, setting unreasonable tasks or deadlines and innuendo can now constitute as bullying?

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has recently stated that these less obvious behaviours can now be considered workplace bullying, highlighted in the recent case of Rachel vs View Launceston when Ms Roberts was unfriended on Facebook by a work colleague.

The FWC can only declare an employee bullied if they meet the workplace bullying definition criteria outlined in the Fair Work Act. Under this definition, an employee is considered bullied when:
  • the employee is at work
  • an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behave unreasonably towards the employee or employees
  • that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety

In the case of ‘repeated unreasonable behaviour’ the FWC conceded that this can refer to a range of behaviours occurring over a period of time.

The case of Roberts Vs View Launceston showed how broad and potentially hard to detect unreasonable behaviour can be. The classification of workplace bullying is constantly changing and now normal social norms, everyday behaviour and ‘gentle ribbing’ can be seen as bullying.

The risk of workplace bullying can be eliminated or minimised by early detection of unreasonable behaviour and through:

  • management training to ensure they have the appropriate tools to detect bullying behaviours before they manifest in the workplace
  • regular discussions with employees
  • feedback from workers when they leave the business
  • monitoring incident reports, workers compensation claims, absenteeism patterns and records of grievance for patterns of behaviour
  • recognising changing relationship between workers

Employers need to constantly be on the ball of changing workplace rules. If you have concerns regarding the culture and behaviour within your workplace, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415. We are always available to take your call and answer any questions you may have.

Sourced via Colin Biggers and Paisley

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